Summaryby Lorraine Espenhain | Why couldn’t God have provided a job for my husband in Philadelphia? Why did He feel the need to uproot me from my comfort zone?
“Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.” (Psalm 90:1)
Many years ago, my husband lost his government job in Philadelphia, and we were forced to move away from everything that was familiar to us, everything and everyone that we knew and loved.
On top of this, my father had been diagnosed with inoperable cancer. I knew that when we moved away, it would be the last time I saw him on earth. Four months after we moved, he died.
As the months went by, I found myself getting angrier and bitterer by the day. Why couldn’t God have provided a job for my husband in Philadelphia?
Why did He feel the need to uproot me from my comfort zone and plant me in a place so far away from my family that visiting them was out of the question apart from flying the friendly skies? Why wouldn’t He heal my father of the cancer that eventually claimed his life?
When the holidays came around, we were all by ourselves while the rest of my family was gathering together in my sister’s home, eating, drinking, and enjoying the gift of one another. I was now living in a place where I did not know a single soul.
At night, when I would pray, I would angrily ask God, “What sin have I committed in Your sight that You could have sentenced me to a place like this far away from my family and friends?
You made the world in six days; You couldn’t create a job for my husband in Philadelphia? You raised Christ from the dead; You couldn’t have kept my father from going to an early grave?
I have no friends, Lord! I have no family out here!”
Eventually, the anger died out and smoldered into a depression that lingered for several years.
No matter how hard I tried, I simply did not like my new home. I didn’t want to be there; I wanted to be back home in Philadelphia. I wanted my old church, my old friends, and my old ministries. I was utterly convinced that I would never be happy again.
As the years went by, however, and as I grew closer to the Lord, He taught me that inner happiness is not dependent upon one’s outward circumstances or physical dwelling place; rather, the key to true inner happiness is making Him our dwelling place wherever we go.
God wants to be our dwelling place; He wants to be the home in which we live. When we surrender to the Holy Spirit in regard to this matter, we will be happy no matter where we hang our hat or what we may be facing in our lives.
Living in God
Long ago, when the children of Israel were exiled to Babylon as a punishment for their sin, they suffered greatly because they desperately longed for Israel, their homeland.
Their suffering and longing for their former dwelling place is reflected in Psalm 137: 1-4, in which we read as follows:
By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. There on the poplars we hung our harps, for there our captors asked us for songs; our tormentors demanded songs of joy. They said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land? (Psalm 137:1-4).
In their agony, they wanted to know how they could possibly sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land. And yet, Moses, who is the author of Psalm 90, provides the answer to this question by reminding Israel that God has been their dwelling place throughout every generation – not some piece of land located in the Middle East.
Even if the land was taken away from Israel (which it was several times throughout her history), the Israelites could not only survive, but still thrive, because God, and not the land, was their true dwelling place.
What goes for Israel goes for those of us who have become the sons and daughters of God through Christ. Sometimes God may physically uproot us in order to replant us somewhere else, far away from our comfort zone.
Sometimes He may send situations into our lives that will leave us confused and disoriented for a season as we struggle to learn whatever it is that He desires to teach us through those circumstances.
Whether He brings us to a new country, new state, new job, or a whole new set of circumstances that we never expected to face, the key to overcoming is to dwell in Him.
We must learn how to live in Him. He is the realm in which we are called to live, and once any child of God has come to learn this secret, Satan knows that he has lost that soul!
How to Do It
How do we make God our dwelling place? We do this by staying faithful to:
- Spiritual Reading
- Holy Mass
- The Sacraments
Many times, when we find ourselves going through a difficult or disorienting season in our lives, it’s easy to put all of these things on the shelf in order to stew in our misery and confusion. It’s easy to say, “When things settle down, I’ll resume these spiritual activities once more.”
This is precisely what Satan wants, for he knows that when we move away from any of these things, we become weak, making it easier for him to move in for the kill.
To dwell in God means to live in a spiritual realm. If we are going to live in a spiritual realm, it goes without saying that we need to do things that are going to strengthen us spiritually.
But when we move away from these things, we also remove ourselves from the spiritual realm in which God has called us to live, and we find ourselves living in our circumstances instead of in God.
He who has been Israel’s dwelling place throughout every generation also desires to be the dwelling place of His sons and daughters in every situation they face as well.
How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a ‘foreign land’ or facing ‘foreign circumstances’?
The answer to this is simple: by making God our dwelling place and the realm in which we faithfully and continually strive to live.
He who has learned to live in God will never be away from home no matter how the winds of life may blow…
…or where they may carry the soul.
Header Image CC Mattis